Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Eventually the uniform changed but not before Belgian Guides, armoured cars and the famous Civic troops forced to disarm by the German deicision to treat them as terorrists were the admiration of the British and French.
Does anyone reenact these troops? I'll search the web to find out and let you know. Here's some repro stuff that looks good.
Belgian Armoured Cars in Russia
Fort Liezele page
Belgisch Leger 1830-1914
Forts of 1914
Monday, October 30, 2006
Back down the mines things for Granddad and his mates had improved; state control of the industry during wartime had seen advances in conditions and pay - now control and ownership was about to go back to the coal-owners and with this move a return to a lower rate of pay - those who didn't agree would be locked out. The Miners went on strike. Including my Grandfather. But the troops were sent to the coalfields and the reservists called up, including my Grandfather. Now why a Mines Rescue and resuscitation expert would be called up in a Miners strike is a bit worrying and it will be a few years before the official papers will be released but with no choice he mustered at Chatham. Incidentally person or persons unknown planted explosives at Middle Pit in Radstock during the General Strike to blow up the head gear, but it was discovered and a police guard placed there. Who, why or what I don't know, but I mention it in passing.
Anyway one thing life underground taught you was the value of comradeship. This spirit was even more acute in Military mining. The miners of the Kent coalfield were not the enemy - they were people like them - drawn from pits all over Britain mostly there by the nature of them being considered troublemakers back home and forced to relocate, as Kent was an unpopular working environment for mining. And don't forget this was 1921. The Russian Revolution was still raging, miners were striking all over the world. So he formed a committee. Meetings were held. A decision reached. A message was passed on. 'We will obey our orders. If the order to fire on miners is given, we will fire alright - at our officers'.
Sadly the strike was crushed. After three months of starving the Miners unsupported after Black Friday , they had no choice. It was a foretaste of the General Strike of 1926 when this time my Grandfather vowed he'd rather eat grass than work underground again and he never looked back. As a postscript to all this wasn't all bad none of his family finished up working in the mines and his son, my Dad had a succesful career as a socialist politician contributing to the landslide defeat of the detested Churchill in 48 (during the General Strike of 1926, Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns be used on the striking miners) and standing for MP in Grandfather's much loved North Somerset getting massive support in 1970.
Images from Staffordshire coalfield from the strike of 1921
Yesterday daughters C and B (with James) went to the London expo to take part in a Cosplay competition. Cosplay is an import from Japan and it involves making and dressing up as a character from animation. My two went as Princess Mononoke and Alice in Wonderland. They didn't win but had a great time. They're used to dressing up - being reenactors since toddlers I'm really proud that they get a kick out of it. They got lots of photos taken and tv interviews - very similar to a historical event! The winner was great, apparently, dressed as Yoshi - funny as we have a cockerel called that. The Expo was brill apparently - they got a lot of toys including some cool Army of Darkness figures and a subscription to Neo magazine.
Wiki on Cosplay
Saturday, October 28, 2006
It's amazing what you can find from a bit of paper.
My folks brought over a document relating to my Grandfather J. T. Mitchard, lance-corporal, and his service in the Great War - I'm trying to get some details that might bring some light on the family history and all that. The document dated 1917 was a Certificate of Proficiency (signed by GFF Eagar) from the Mines Rescue unit for using the Proto ('Very good') and Salvus ('Good') Breathing apparatus when he was attached to the Royal Engineers for Military mining duties. (He was a Radstock collier before enlisting in the Coldstream Guards). Anyway that led me to the above site Mines Rescue and the Great War and this fascinating photo of men using the Proto kit (see above). This is presumably - and it ties in with the family stories - what he did. The accompanying video Miners at War looks essential too. I also found that his unit, tunelling company 254, had a posthumous VC awarded to Staffordshire collier-turned soldier William Hackett who was a fascinating hero - being 44 when he refused to abandon a comrade under ground. Really interesting and not just a little H.G. Wells from the equipment photographed - this is a side of the war - these 'Proto men' - I knew nothing about - this is sometimes overlooked but is possibly much more important than is given credit. The colour photo, by the way is German equipment from the same period. Chilling. I don't remember my Granddad but I'm pretty sure they don't make people like that anymore. Order form for video/dvd here
Royal Engineers Museum1914-18 collection
'THE DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS OF MINE-RESCUE WORK ON THE WESTERN FRONT; AND MINING OPERATIONS CARRIED OUT BY MEN WEARING RESCUE-APPARATUS' period piece on the nature of the men and their work. Worth a read. British and Commonwealth Mining Operations 1914-18 is an excellent site with bibliography and diagram of a proto set.
Great fun. We managed to get back to the true meaning of 'bunfight' - that is - a battle fought with baps and shields. As you can see my knowledge of the Romans' contribution to the world is pretty sketchy. The gorilla faced ancient briton is a reenactor from St Petersburg Russia - no names - no pack drill! 'Russian in a toga I know I know - it's serious'
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Picture is of a 77mm Field Gun from a feature on reenactors from 1st World War.com
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
These photos are from the late 90s with me in the much travelled redcoat reenacting the French and Indian war. For more on woodland indian reenacting, links and more photos go to my webpage. Finding suitable locations for staging skirmishes in this country was not easy - but the American Museum near Bath was perfect - the woodland surrounding the museum has the right feel and the content of the insides was complimentary. My Flintlock and Tomahawk blog has some interesting features you might like.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
This scene is filmed at Maiden Castle - an Iron Age hillfort in Dorset once stormed by the Romans. Sergeant Troy demonstrates his prowess with the sword - a Salisbury Plain charge scene is inserted too - apparently this scene was extremely dangerous to film - note the flashing in front of Christie's eyes. Anyway this film just screams rural Dorset in the Victorian era though one scene is shot at Devizes Wilts - another scene is shot at Gold Hill - see Hovis ad below. If you get a chance get this rural romance - one of my favourite movies ever. Wiki
This week is free at local museums for residents so I popped along to Waterloo Road with Susan to see how it's getting along. Focussing on the area's Mining and farming history there are mock-ups of shops, a blacksmith, a coal shaft and local domestic interiors at the turn of the century - in effect what the inside of my house used to be like. The scullery pictured has a huge copper type bowl that we still have that was for washing clothes. Fascinating, but very weird - to be in that sort of 'Sunday Museum' frame of mind and seeing objects that we still have while foreign people and day trippers milled about. Here's also a picture of me pondering if it was on such a delivery bike so many years ago when I was about 14 that I lost my work ethic.
Anyway a great place to spend time - a nice cafe and bookshop with stacks of the educational 'Five Arches' magazine - I'm already regretting I didn't pick up the articles on the Crimean War and the Somerset coalfields. A booklet I did buy though was one on the Great War in the area but to my dismay no mention of our Grandfather!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
So here's a pic of me in French Revolutionary stuff on. I realise I look pretty stupid in this but it is linked to some of the other posts showing a stage between the white-coated French of Yorktown (and the monarchy of Marie-Antionette) and the Napoleonic troops of Jena. French Revolutionary Calendar
A postcard of our local pub the Tyning Inn taken by Susan. With panoramic views over Radstock the beer garden was once the home of Quoits matches - a game associated with miners and still played in parts of Britain. How about a revival 'round here?
According to Radstock Museum we won the 'world championship' in 1927 - beating Farrington Gurney in the final (FG is about 4 miles away)!!
Movie made by school children on Quoiting
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Ridley Scott directed this commercial before doing the Duellists - it is shot at Gold Hill in Shaftesbury Dorset. I used to do a delivery round with an old bike like this for the Co-op and it was a really heavy bike with poor brakes. I used to get 5p for every box of groceries I delivered - I used to have to get the bike to crash to get it to stop. I should have got danger money as some of the hills in Frome make Gold Hill look flat!
A couple of ferret photos for you - the one on top is Napoleon and his uncle Kowalski playing but the thing to note is the sellotape around the bottom of Susan's trousers - can you guess why it's there? (Answer; flares and free range ferrets don't mix - maybe that's why you don't see many hippies owning ferrets). The other pic is Napoleon's new toy - he nagged and nagged for a guitar - let's hope he does play it - by the way if you're thinking he's a bit chubby - he's just big boned alright?
Friday, October 20, 2006
Directed by Ridley Scott (his first feature film)and based on the story by Joseph Conrad this is one of the best movies to deal with the Napoleonic era. Fresh from doing commercials Scott opted to avoid huge set-piece battle scenes but instead piled on the historical atmosphere and made the movie human scale but very accurate.
The story is a bit of an enigma in itself but the two main protagonists, French hussar officers played by Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine find themselves enemies and fight a series of duels as the Napoleonic wars progress. Lots of interesting characters abound, played by acting luminaries like Edward Fox and Albert Finney. A real sense of history is achieved as the fortunes of the French army decline - but don't let that put you off - this is not a military history film - more a cinematic treat. Pour yourself a glass of red wine and sit back and enjoy a beautiful film, obviously influenced by Barry Lyndon and if you don't enjoy it you can call me Napoleon.
Wiki on the Duellists
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Coal was discovered in Radstock in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years War but difficult conditions meant that it was slow growth but a boom was in place by the end of the 18th century when one of the engines of Jonathon Hornblower was installed in 1782. A poor transport infrastructure meant most of the coal only went to local markets - nearby Bath was in its heyday as a British Las Vegas and the world famous Royal Crescent had been recently built. In 1795 during the French Revolution the Somerset Coal Canal was commenced - at the bottom of our garden - by French prisoners of war - . In 1760 Stoney Littleton Longbarrow was discovered when stone was being excavated for road mending. Later in 1816 it was explored by the famous Reverend John Skinner but it was raided by riotous colliers who helped themselves to bones and other objects. I wonder what went missing? Skinner is pretty famous and his diaries Journal of a Somerset Rector 1772-1839 are still widely read. Skinner seemed to consider the local miners as the worst kind of humanity and eventually shot himself, depressed. His observations are priceless, though gloomy ‘I was not a little astonished, as I walked through Bath, to observe the streets so crowded with prostitutes, some of them apparently not above 14 or 15 years of age’ or "I drove to Priston [Rectory] to dine with Mr. Hammond . . . and had an entertainment better suited to Grovesnor Square than a clergyman's home - French dishes and French wines in profusion. I hope such feasts will not be repeated often, or I am sure I shall not be one of the guests."
The Scots Greys bivouaced at Radstock in 1815 on the way to Southampton eventually giving the road Waterloo Road. My house was built about 1840 for the workers of the newly opened Tyning Colliery and within a decade or so the railways replaced the canal which interestingly was in its turn replaced by a cycle path.
Mining ended in the 1960s in Radstock but an excellent museum keeps the period of boom in focus with excellent displays.
There is a story from the 18th century in Radstock where a soldier commenced an illicit affair with a clergyman's daughter - thwarted they enacted a suicide pact but the soldier managed to back out and survive. At least men haven't changed.
Wiki on Bath in the 18th century
Siege of Yorktown wiki Event website
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Armies in Plastic do a comprehensive range of WW1 figures both early and late - the poses traditional - ideal though a little expensive - available in the UK from Steve Weston and others.
Scale Link do an excellent range of parts and accessories for most nations. Heads, torsos enable you to build your own figure.
Emhar do a range of '1/35' scale tanks and figures - including a Whippet fast tank, available from ebay and Hannants. A French Schneider tank is due for release which is pretty exciting. Also useful 77mm Field gun and 18 pdr. Figures are OK.
Irregular Miniatures do some interesting metal 54mm figures and pieces (see image) which look great in the traditional toy soldier style and relatively inexpensive. Traditional toy soldiers abound in this scale - newest and cheapest are made by Corgi.
ICM also do later period British and German infantry in kit form. Also their Franco Prussian war figures might be good for early Germans and include a mounted officer. Polish company RPM do some kits like the Renault FT-17 and Ford Model T trucks.
So who knows? Maybe I might get to live out my fantasy and have a Great War trench system in my garden - if only someone did a remote-controlled tank in this scale...
In conclusion I think it would be difficult to do the early war period in this scale due to the lack of cavalry available but tanks and artillery make it possible to do 1917-18 easily. Barbed wire, emplacements and ruins are readily available for WW2.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Come on - this actually looks a fun movie and anything that celebrates the 18thc AND Bow Wow Wow has to be good - I might go to the cinema for this... from the vague things I've read it sounds more like a pop video than a movie but that sounds alright to me...based on Antonia Fraser's biography apparently and starring Kirsten Dunst, the settings and general look seems pretty ok in a pop video sort of way...maybe it will appeal to the Pirates of the Carribean audience and start a fashion for the period - maybe I ought to launch a French 18th century reenactment society...actually that's probably not such a good idea.
Real life Marie Antoinette Wiki. Movie Wiki
NO MORE HEROES
A Complete History Of Punk From 1976-1980
Release Date: October 2006 Cherry Red Books
Punk rock: it’s a well-worn subject, but this new book extends the searchlight beyond the King’s Road, Roxy and West London – though that crucial scene is by no means neglected. It also encompasses some of the truly fantastic music (and sometimes truly less than fantastic records) that emerged in the wake of the Sex Pistols. The idea has been to give the progenitors their due, but to listen to the reverberations around the UK, from Exeter to Inverness. Participants (musicians, fanzine writers, observers) recount first-hand stories of flea pit gigs, desperately financed singles and local rivalries – punk as it was understood and lived on the ground. The enduring impact of punk belonged to the shires of Britain as well as the celebrated urban gene pool of the capital, where it played out, with a mixture of indomitable personal courage and amoral teenage mischief-making, amongst the alienated of shitsville UK. In the process punk is revealed as a much broader church than other histories have depicted, an entry point for young men and women (and a significant helping of old codgers) from differing backgrounds, with widely ranging sensibilities and aspirations.
The book assesses each of the major ‘punk artists’, candidly, on their output, following their development to the present day. There’s an effort to redress perceived wisdom about the value of those careers as the 70s turned into the 80s, when many of the original punk bands actually made their best records. While many names will be familiar others will not. Hence time is devoted to punk’s splintered personality post-1977. From those bands that took it as an inviolate template, to those who embraced it as a rebirth for the original spirit of rock ‘n’ roll to those, finally, who judged it the end of rock music and a jumping off point for something completely new. There is no unifying view or theory behind these accounts, instead the book serves as an attempt to capture the beautiful chaos engendered by competing voices as the walls came tumbling down. The idea is to be inclusive and celebratory rather than cynical. Therefore opinions are sought from outside the tight huddle of usual suspects and would-be elitists, drawing on bemused and bewildered non-participants to events, as well as those who served in the trenches. There is no attempt to locate the ‘meaning’ of punk, nor to run a slide rule over qualifications for its status. The author has instead, in the majority of cases, let the protagonists make their own cases. Where possible the bands concerned have exercised the right of reply, leading to a more balanced account of their own history. Some 200 interviews were completed in the course of researching the book, leading to a plethora of first-hand insights and anecdotes.
A secondary aspect of the book is the comprehensive documentation of the releases, both contemporary and retrospective, of the bands of the era. It’s an attempt to address the jungle of retrospective CDs and box sets, the sheer volume of which indicates the continued fascination around this period in British musical history.
· Over 300 individual band/artist biographies
· Use of several unpublished photos
· Forewords by Captain Sensible and David Marx
· Complete discographies featuring capsule reviews and source notes
Samples etc at: http://www.alexogg.com/
Monday, October 16, 2006
As readers of this Blog will know I have a soft spot for the little corporal - portrayed at this reenactment by an American, Marc Shneier, and this is one of his golden victories, won before Jean de l'epee thought he was invincible. Be sure to see the Speigel's article and gallery from whence these images come - I miss Napoleonic reenactment if only for the thrill of advancing at the beat of the drum, the smell of blackpowder, the thunder of hooves, the desire to go to toilet at inappropriate times... Result France 5 Prussia 0
If you're not an Alesha fan watch this clip from Derek Jarman's Jubilee - of Jordan doing it -it's what the Eurovision song contest should be like. Of course we're talking about Jordan - the punk innovator and Ants manager of course.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
This weekend is the big event - 1066 - the most decisive battle on English soil being reenacted by a cast of thousands. Live webcasts and all sorts of wonders of the world wide web are linked so if you can't make it you can still experience a milestone of history being reenacted Details here
Friday, October 13, 2006
Babyshambles and Friends Release Janie Jones
Babyshambles and Friends release, a cover of the Clash classic, Janie Jones through B-Unique Records on Monday 30th October. All proceeds from the single will go to Strummerville (the Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music).The single features contributions from 21 other artists: Carl Barat, the Rakes, Mystery Jets, The Holloways, We Are Scientists, The Paddingtons, Larrikin Love, Cazals, Noisettes, Good Books, Lady Fuzz, Kooks, Jack Penate, Laura Marling, Maccabees, Lisa Moorish, Light Speed Champ (Test Icicles), Jamie T, Jeremy Warmsley, Guillemots. The idea came about after Statik suggested to Drew McConnell (Babyshambles) and that they record the song for Strummerville. The single was recorded at The Whirling Dervish and Oilsville studio in Holloway and was produced by Statik and Drew McConnell. It will be available on CD single and 7”, the B.side features a solo version of Janie Jones by Peter Doherty and a remix of the A.side by Statik - featuring Lethal Bizzle, JME, No Mind and Talk Taxis.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Wiki on Winehouse
Monday, October 09, 2006
The Heng Long Price Revolution
The cheap r/c tanks that everyone seems to be buying at the moment is 1/16th scale world war two tanks made by Heng Long - mostly the Tiger and the new Panther. These are basically cheap remakes of Tokyo Marui originals, but are affordable and offer opportunities for the enthusiast to buy additional bits and do conversion projects. These seem to be going for about 50 pounds on ebay (see above link for current UK sales), and have smoke and sound options as well as being able to fire bb pellets. Ideal, though the non-German tanks available are limited to a M26 Pershing Snow Leopard or a post-war M41A3. The popularity of these tanks have made their predecessors, the modern 1/24th scale ones, like I have (see photo and clip) drop even more in price to less than 30 pounds. These are on the high street for about 55 pounds. There is a high level of returns with this manufacturer so ensure you buy off a dealer who has plenty - I got through two tanks before getting a working one but it has not given me any trouble since. (Hen Long review here)
Other manufacturers are making WW2 models in this scale - the most tempting one is the Trumpeter T-34/85 though more expensive than Heng Long probably is better quality.
1/16th scale is pretty useful - you can buy all sorts of figures and accessories in this scale, but if you're not a WW2 nut you might go for cheaper and contemporary, and take up my idea to 'Pimp' your tank. Modern tanks are pretty dull things but at this price you could respray your tank to a personal style with add-on decals and a replacement action figure to fight with your pals in a post-apocalypse scenario. Flags and personal bits could make it quite a fun project. The photo shows a Star Wars figure for size comparison. Anyway I hope to convert part of my garden to make tank combat interesting - if you get one you are invited to take mine on - whatever scale you get. (By the way the clip is only 7 seconds long so you might as well watch!)
Peel sessions lp coming out soon - see Harvey's official site
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I am not sure whether to watch the BBC's new Robin Hood series starting tonight; it promises to be a contemporary take on the legend - so when WASN'T anything NOT a contemporary take? Errol Flynn was hot when that version is out - Richard Lester's Robin and Marian was steeped in the late 60s - the thing is with any filming is that even if you tried not to it would be a contemporary take. What you can guarantee is that this will be aimed at the sort of people who will probably be already vomiting white cider by 7 o'clock on saturday, in other words it will be a dumbed down affair, a 'Robin is an ASBO' type of thing - the costumes already tell us that - how many yards of leather did they use to make Robin's outfit look like a hoodie? I expect the Normans will look like Harry Hastings (left) or the Tony Robinson Maid Marian baddies... Can I also guess that it will have a nauseating rave soundtrack? Probably easier on the ears than Clannad. BBC Robin Hood webpage
The photo is me and a pal reenacting native warriors at the time of the American Revolution at Firle Place. Most natives sided with the British to their eventual cost during the American Revolution, the American response was to play up and exaggerate Indian atrocities in the press demonising the British along the way. Propaganda like this was vital in swaying opinion abroad, in France in particular. The rest is history.
As a result of losing the Revolution many natives were displaced ending up in Canada and elsewhere. Doing events like this is more about talking to the public about primitive camping and history than running about fightin' and shooting. More like a talk on the introduction to the 18th century history of say, the Iroquois than going 'woo woo'. Honestly.
A list of links for reenacting Natives and related hobbies mainly for the US is here.
Friday, October 06, 2006
It's a very interesting pursuit going through old photos - you find photos of things that crop up later in life - just as an example of what I am saying you might take a photo of a ferret when you visit somewhere with the children as babies and now they are adults the whole house is overrun with them and then you find the original photo that you had forgottten about, if that makes sense.
Of course Henry and Ivan later came to support Wilko and meet him in different circumstances - I wonder if he remembered that interview? More live shots soon... Bad Detectives website
Wilko Johnson website Watch him doing Roxette on the OGWT while in Dr Feelgood
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Coming in the next few weeks is the surprise appearance of Swedish infantry, Charles XII period, in 1/72 scale from Zvezda, probably the world leader in quality figures in this medium. Designed to go with the Strelets - have a look at them to judge for yourself the standard of sculpting and poses.
Zvezda box art usually matches the contents and judging from this the poses are all historically accurate and useful. I can imagine these could form the basis for all sorts of 18thc armies.
As today is the anniversary of the disestablishment of the Christian church in the French Revolution in 1793 you can feast your eyes on this still from the French movie Les Chouans. The Revolution was a great time for radical ideas - a new calendar, new feast days and huge parades celebrating 'reason'. I also love the fashions, particularly those worn by the Sans-Culottes. We nearly had a band in the 80s that was going to wear French revolution fashion and have a guillotine on stage, but alas Reason won the day and it was not to be.
The best book on the subject 'Fashion in the French Revolution' and has that title is by Aileen Ribeiro, and though now out of print should be available through library loan.
To see French reenactors the 18eme de ligne from Orchies near Lille reenact this period check out their gallery. It was in their company that we spent the night of 14th July 1989 and a fine night it was.
What is a Chouan? Here's a page of a group I haven't encountered recreating them.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Here's my contribution to the canon - interested parties can download a Rhinovian phrase book here soon.
The Humvee is an amazing vehicle - associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger, rappers and of course American soldiers in the desert. What a reputation. Wouldn't even get down our road, but then that was only meant for the night soil man in the treacle cart. Anyone make a model of that?
Times review here.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Here I am third from the left at Audley End House, in about 91. We are about to skirmish with the British and allied forces.
So, after leaving the 46eme I had up and joined the 3eme, which was a small, but authentic group who didn't really take themselves too seriously and were good fun. They were following a bicentennial programme so 1992 was 1792 and changes in equipment followed this pattern. I like the above photo - as you can see it was a motley bunch but that was the nature of French revolutionary troops but we're mostly all smiling and it was a talented group. We often wore clogs or went barefoot in the pursuit of authenticity but we were also capable of doing silly stuff when required. A lot of Napoleonic events were abroad but at this time I was well-paid and was able to go off campaigning with other nationalities, including eastern bloc reenactors which was the most strange of all as this was before the Berlin Wall's collapse and so on. Sadly this group is no more but the ex caporal Kevin Garlick (to the right of me with clay pipe) is busy making historical footwear for reenactors and museums and the like. Check out his site.